I haven’t posted for a bit because I experienced a repetitive injury from crocheting. This was tough for me because I had to rest my wrist and forearm and stop crocheting! It was like torture because I crochet every day. But the pain was so bad I couldn’t even hold a pen to write. I knew if I didn’t take it seriously, it would get worse. Thankfully, last week, I was able to get back to it.
In continuing with my submissions to #TheGreatYarnChallenge contest by The Craft Yarn Council, I thought I would write about my project for the theme, Yarn in the Wild. As with my other projects, I wanted to honor my Dakhota lineage. I chose to crochet a child-size tipi. What says in the wild better? I am so proud of it. It is the largest crochet project I have made, and it was the cause of my injury! But it was so worth it.
This was a project that showed me I am capable of more than I give myself credit for. I didn’t think I could make such a large item. It was good to be proven wrong and receive a nice boost to my creative confidence. Spiritually this was so healing and nurturing for me too.
The tipi is how my ancestors historically lived in community with our family, extended family, and clan. It was our way to move with the buffalo and the seasons. Once the buffalo was nearly exterminated due to over-hunting and slaughter by European settlers, we were confined to reservations and became dependent on rations. We were impressed upon to try the European style homes. No longer in close community with our relatives, and due to isolation, we became focused on things that were not good for us. Our lungs suffered because we did not have the ventilation afforded by the tipi. But because my tribe was a peaceful, flexible people, and we wanted to survive, over time, we adopted the Euro-style homes.
Sadly, our efforts and enforced assimilation through boarding schools did not promote good mental health for us. We were masking who we are fundamentally and how we had lived for thousands of years. Many of us became convinced our ways were wrong and even became ashamed of them. This is the effect of settler colonialism and genocide—loss of culture, language loss, loss of spiritual practices and ultimately identity. These effects extended through the generations to my family and caused addiction and chronic health problems.
I did not grow up learning the ways from my kin. We moved far from home to live the better life that was promised if we forsook and forgot what made us who we are. Most of my life, I struggled with depression, anxiety, feeling out of place or like I was on the outside looking in. I didn’t know why.
It wasn’t until I went to graduate school to study Psychology, that I was strongly encouraged to recover and reconnect with my heritage. It is something I have done slowly and sometimes painfully over the last several years. I wish I could say this is something unusual for Native people, but it’s not.
Well, there is so much more I could write about all of that, but that would be a different blog. If you’ve read this far, thank you for your kind attention.
If you are interested in giving this project a go, I will share how I made mine. I respectfully ask though that if you are not of Native American lineage, that you not sell it or use it to promote your business or website. This is cultural appropriation and follows in the footsteps of the exploitation and stolen resources Native people have been subjected to through Colonialism. Again, this would be a subject for another blog post so if you have questions or want to know more, here is a great podcast, All My Relations, to reference. One of the presenters, Adrienne Keene, has 300+ posts on her own blog, Native Appropriations. But, please do make and use it for you and your little relatives’ personal enjoyment!
Okay! Here are the long-awaited directions.
- 3 balls Bernat Blanket Big in Vintage
- 5 balls Bernat Blanket Extra in Vintage White (I ran out of Vintage) and Mushroom (Used at the base of the tipi.)
- 15 mm crochet hook
- (7) 3” wide and approximately 1.5” tall pieces of scrap fabric. I used a muslin fabric. These will be pockets to slip the lodge poles in. My husband cut them down to 5 feet.
- (5) tree stakes. I got mine at Lowes. These were a bit too wide though. To incorporate the recommended 5 stakes, I would look for stakes that are no bigger than 1.5” in diameter.
- Sisal or natural fiber rope
- The tipi is basically just a big crocheted semi-circle. I used this tutorial from Happily Hooked Magazine to make mine. I just kept increasing until it was long enough and wide enough for the size of the lodge poles.
- Once the tipi half circle is the size you would like, you can hand sew or hot glue 5 pieces of the scrap fabric evenly around the bottom of the tipi. The other 2 pieces are attached to the mid-front of the tipi to hold the opening. Make sure you are attaching these to the side you designate as the “wrong side” or inside. Then you slip the poles through these holders with the pointed side down, not through the top. You will want to insert the pointed side in the earth.
- Once the poles are inserted in the earth, tie the tops of the poles together with the sisal rope. Man-made fibers can be too slippery.
- Optional—create a mandala for the entrance of the tipi, or any decorations you would like. I made the Tapestry Star from the book Modern Crochet Mandalas by Interweave.
If you do make it, I would love to see it! You can tag me on Instagram @holly_marie0407.